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What is New Media?

New media is any media – from newspaper articles and blogs to music and podcasts – that are delivered digitally. From a website or email to mobile phones and streaming apps, any internet-related form of communication can be considered new media.

Icons of a laptop, headphones, an envelope, a cellphone and a chat bubble in yellow circles on a blue background.

New media doesn’t necessarily refer to a specific mode of communication. Some types of new media, such as an online newspaper, are also “old media” in the form of a traditional printed newspaper. Other new media are entirely new, such as a podcast or smartphone app. It becomes even more complicated to define when you consider that as technology continues to advance, the definition continually changes.

New media is any media – from newspaper articles and blogs to music and podcasts – that are delivered digitally. From a website or email to mobile phones and streaming apps, any internet-related form of communication can be considered new media.

Earning a new media degree can be an excellent way to develop a wide array of skills to work in media and technology across many industries.

“I think a degree in new media is of value because it helps hone the skills necessary to succeed in this industry, like writing, graphic design, video production and marketing,” said Christine Bord, an adjunct instructor in Southern New Hampshire University’s communications department. “This is also a very competitive field, and many employers are looking for candidates who have a degree in media and marketing.”

What is New Media – with Examples?

The New Media Institute defines new media as “a catchall term used to define all that is related to the internet and the interplay between technology, images and sound.” That's in contrast to “old media,” which PCMag defines as all forms of communication that came before digital technology, including “radio and TV and printed materials such as books and magazines.”

It also constantly changes. As new technology is developed and widely adopted, what is considered new continues to morph. Once upon a time, DVDs and CDs were the latest way to watch movies and listen to music. Now, streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify are more popular.

Just a few examples of new media include:

  • Websites
  • Blogs
  • Email
  • Social media networks
  • Music and television streaming services
  • Virtual and augmented reality

“I think the most important thing to know about new media is that it is always changing,” Bord said. “Though this does make it a challenging field because professionals have to be aware of the constant changes in trends and technologies, it also makes it a very exciting and dynamic field to enter.”

Careers in New Media

Media is a vast industry that encompasses dozens of job roles that leverage skills ranging from writing and oral communication to coding, graphic design and more. Some common job roles for someone with a new media degree can include social media manager, public relations specialist and marketing executive, Bord said. 

But you don’t have to work in new media to leverage skills you develop in a new media degree program. Robert Krueger teaches in SNHU’s graduate communications program. He said students often go on to work at communication and government agencies, hospitals and nonprofits. 

“We also see a lot of journalists making the transition to communications, as well as high school teachers taking the next step by aspiring to become a professor at the college level,” Krueger said.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks many positions that new media professionals work in, including:

Social Media Specialist

Social media specialists are experts at representing a company or brand in the public sphere through social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They create and post content and communicate with customers.

Social media specialists usually have a bachelor’s degree and familiarity with social media platforms and best practices. BLS groups social media specialists into public relations jobs since their duties can overlap. In 2018, according to BLS, PR specialists made a median salary of $60,000.

Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists also help maintain and improve a company’s public reputation and image but generally do so by working with media members in person and via press releases and other measures. They can also be in charge of other corporate communications, including speeches given by company leaders.

Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in public relations or a related field, such as journalism, communications, English or business. They rely heavily on their interpersonal, organizational and communication skills.

Public relations specialists made a median salary of $60,000 in 2018, and the field is expected to grow by 6% through 2028, according to BLS.

Graphic Designer

As a graphic designer, you would be charged with creating visual images using computer software to market products and services and to tell stories. You would work with images and text and decide how they work together to effectively communicate via a website, brochure, magazine or advertisement, according to BLS.

Graphic designers usually need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field. In 2018, graphic designers made a median salary of $50,000, and the field is expected to grow by 3% through 2028, according to BLS.

Editor

Editors are in charge of reviewing, correcting and improving content across all types of publishing formats, many of which are now delivered to readers and viewers digitally. As an editor, you may also be in charge of supervising writers and working with them to improve their writing, as well as developing content and content strategies, and ensuring all content conforms to your publication's style and editorial guidelines.

Editors typically need to earn a bachelor’s degree, often in communications, journalism or English, and usually start their careers as writers or editorial assistants. In 2018, editors made a median salary of $59,000, according to BLS.

Photographer

Photographers are a good example of a profession that has had to adapt from “old media” to new media as technology evolved. Instead of film and a developing room, photographers today are armed with digital cameras and are adept at working with a wide range of computer software. Many photographers are self-employed and can specialize in certain types of photography, such as:

  • Aerial photography
  • Commercial photography
  • Drone photography
  • Fine art photography
  • News photography
  • Portrait photography

While a college degree isn’t required, many aspiring photographers choose to attend post-high school training programs to develop their skills. Many entry-level photojournalist positions do require a degree, and business and marketing can be helpful for self-employed photographers.

In 2018, photographers made a median salary of $34,000, according to BLS.

Marketing Manager

Marketing managers are executives who plan marketing and advertising campaigns based on market research and analysis and develop strategies to promote products and services to customers. As a marketing manager, you might also be charged with hiring promotions and marketing staff, meeting with clients and collaborating with other executives in a company – including public relations, sales and product development – to coordinate the role of marketing strategies within the larger company goals.

Marketing managers need a bachelor’s degree and usually have prior experience working in other marketing, promotions or advertising roles. Some employers emphasize the need for strong analytical, decision making, organizational and communication skills and creativity.

Marketing managers made a median salary of $132,000 in 2018, and the position is expected to grow by 8% through 2028.

In addition to those positions, Krueger said the value of a new media degree can open up some industries that might not be obvious to you.

“Just as the saying goes about every business needs an accountant, I think that no business exists without a communications professional,” he said. “Most recently, I have come across many new media professionals who work in-house for large financial institutions and law firms.”

Bord agreed and said virtually every business needs to have a digital presence and so are interested in hiring media professionals.

“If you can think of an industry, chances are there is a new media position available within it,” she said.

New Media Skills

By studying and working in new media, professionals in the field can develop strong and marketable skills that are valuable across a vast range of industries. From writing, editing and design to marketing and public relations, these skills can help you market yourself to too many types of employers to list.

“While studying new media, students will learn theoretical and tactical skills in social media, video, digital marketing, public relations and other areas of communication,” Krueger said. “We look to prepare students to be leaders in their field, which is why we focus on how to strategize and offer consultation to CEOs and C-suite members when given a seat at the table.”

As a new media professional, you can bring value to a company or organization because you will be prepared to apply your technical and soft skills to adapt to the ever-changing landscape in the field. 

“Students in this area bring know-how in the art of messaging and that intersection with technology,” Krueger said. “As a professor who also works for a large global company, I assure you these are the skills that make communicators succeed out in the field.”

Joe Cote is a staff writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Follow him on Twitter @JoeCo2323.

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